A Critical Discussion on Overcoming Communication Barriers in HIV Prevention among In- School People with Disability (PWD) in Ekiti State- A Case of the Hearing Impaired and Visually Impaired Population

Approximately 15.6% of the world’s adult population live with disabilities, with 80% of people with disabilities (PWD) living in the developing world, according to a United Nations (UN) study. Due to numerous factors, including lack of education and services to ensure safe sex, risk of abuse and rape, stigma and lack of legal security, among others, people with disabilities are at high risk of being infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). In the three special schools in the state, situation study of HIV prevention intervention among in-school PWD shows that 48 percent of the total population in these schools is hearing impaired, 16 percent visually impaired and 6 percent mentally impaired. To this end, the World Bank-funded Ekiti State AIDS Control Agency, in partnership with Community Based Organisations (Eyelosun), has initiated a two-year intervention programme aimed at reaching the PWD population through HIV prevention services. Issue-based activism, selection and training of PWDs as peer educators, community dialogue, interpersonal communication and centred group conversations were included in the project community’s entry process activities. The educational strategy of age peers was used to develop the ability of PWDs for HIV prevention. To ease communication barriers, the Peer Education Manual and IEC materials were created in Braille and sign language (target community specific communication materials). Thirty-five eligible teachers specialising in Braille and sign languages were selected and trained as TOT (Training of Trainers) Peer Educator Trainers and 25 PWDs (hearing and visually impaired) were selected and trained by trained teachers using the Braille and sign language guides to perform peer education. With an 80% rise in HIV counselling and testing (HCT) uptake and other HIV services, the use of Braille and Sign language HIV prevention related materials to interact with PWD strengthened their comprehension and awareness of HIV/AIDS. PWD has been actively involved in all structural interventions, including the Neighborhood Dialogues and the Anti-AIDS Club. However, due to communication difficulties, the mentally disabled, who are extremely sexually active and at risk of HIV, remain a neglected group. The project’s achievements are hoped to be maintained beyond the project cycle. There is a need to strengthen action among neglected communities on HIV prevention and advocate for financing initiatives targeting PWDs either in closed environments (institutions) or in the broader community. While this project has been able to interact with visual and hearing impaired PWDs, due to communication difficulties, the intellectually impaired, extremely sexually active and at risk of HIV remain an overlooked group.

Author(s) Details

C. Doherty
Community Mobilization and Programme Planning, Funmilayo Olayinka Women Center, Nigeria.

R. Ajayi
Community Mobilization and Programme Planning, Funmilayo Olayinka Women Center, Nigeria.

Y. Ajumobi
Community Mobilization and Programme Planning, Funmilayo Olayinka Women Center, Nigeria.

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